Last week, Besame introduced us to the Town Hall Project, a volunteer program she’s joined that tracks town halls and other social interactions that are scheduled by legislators. These are often events that said legislators might not want to publicize, lest they be asked hard questions or held to account by the public. This reminded me of something I consider to have been a great liberal failure in 2008: We stopped remembering to show up. We thought our job was finished and, with the government in good hands, decided that we could go back to our lives.
We won’t make that mistake again. But while we’re really engaged and full of ideas about what works on a national level, our own communities are where we can really exercise our clout. If we only turn out on Election Day in even years that’s just once every 730.5 days that our government really has to pay attention to us. On a national level, anyway.
But at the local level? That’s something different. We’re all finally beginning to realize that the Republican stranglehold on state and local governments, even in blue states, is something we can no longer tolerate. If our government is a pyramid, the base of it lies at the local level, with power and influence concentrating as it contracts through the state and federal levels. If the wider base is populated with corporate interests—think Chamber of Commerce drones as mayors and supervisors, good ol’ boys as sheriffs, and right-wing evangelical home schoolers on school boards—it’s no wonder we feel like we’re swimming against a red tide. It’s no wonder so many people think their government doesn’t work for them, when their elected officials sing some variation of “government is broken, so elect me and I’ll break it more.”
Most grassroots organizations don’t have national name recognition, but they are nonetheless powerful tools for advocacy that keeps pressure on elected representatives every day of the year. I know just a bare fraction of the great committees and organizations holding local politician accountable to their communities. So in this week’s comments, I’m asking you for ideas about how to effect local change, how to strengthen our political base, to make our local and state government work for all our people, and ensure equal protection, justice, and opportunity for everyone.
10 RESCUED STORIES FROM 4 P.M. EST FRIDAY FEB. 26 TO 4 P.M. EST FRIDAY MARCH 5, 2021
Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover great work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.
Is there A video game that can teach children and adults about homelessness? Yes, there is. Despite an initial reaction that the game would be exploitive, Random82 learned the experience was very different, and invited their nephew to play the game. “He asked if the game is possible to win. Having done so a few times out of many, I told him it was possible, but it is very difficult. He thought for awhile, and finally just said ‘it’s not fair,’ and referring to the character he chose, went on to say ‘it wasn’t her fault.’ She did not deserve to be cold and hungry, and have to wash in a dirty public bathroom just because she got sick and lost her job and couldn’t pay her rent.” Of course, the real experience of homelessness is far worse than a game. Together, the two called a local food pantry to ask what they most needed, then made a trip to the grocery store to get it. The developers, a small indie UK game company, give 20% of proceeds to homeless charities, and concede that their game is “an inadequate glimpse into the harsh reality of being homeless.” But, the writer muses, it’s a start. Random82 has authored 11 stories and this is their second rescue.
Part of a nascent series about films that document the labor movement, Random82‘s second rescue this week is Labor Film of the Week, a retrospective examination of the 1987 John Sayles’ classic Matewan. Harkening back to a time when the labor movement was ruthelessly and violently opposed by police and private security hired by corporate owners alike, Matewan is an unsparing look at the obstacles to unionization, which included appeals to prejudice, bad faith actors, and murder. “(B)rave men and women overcame together in order to eventually form the still imperfect, but by far, more just society we today too often take for granted. Honor them by watching and reading accounts of their struggle. Honor them in your memory and thoughts. Honor them by speaking up for what is right at work. Honor them at the ballot box, against the same forces, modernized, dressed up and made over to conceal what they really are and have always been, the enemy workers, of fairness, and human dignity, driven by greed and cruelty.” This marks Random82’s third rescue, and their second this week.
DrMarmot considers consequences in Caging Asian palm civets: How environmental devastation is creating the next coronavirus epidemic. Both loss of habitat and encroachment into the civet’s natural environment increase opportunities for coronaviruses to jump the species barrier. In the case of civets, however, the popularity of the species as exotic pets, and a new practice of industrial farming that keeps civets caged in crowded cages, force-fed coffee berries solely to produce expensive Kopi Luwak coffee, are “a nightmare for breeding infectious disease” and have combined to pose a unique threat among many disease vector species. “As (civets) adjust to human landscapes, they bring their coronaviruses, and the opportunities for homologous recombination, with them. Our destruction of nature is a selective force for (our) own destruction by disease.” With an explanation of the mutative quality of coronaviruses, mindful of the fact that the poor suffer disease more extensively and acutely than the wealthier, DrMarmot examines why we must recognize that our fate as a species is tied intimately to our ecosystems and their sustainability. DrMarmot has authored 12 stories, and this the fifth rescue.
Continuing the conversation about the coronavirus, Baal still demystifies the basics of cellular research in drug development in HEK293 cells and drug discovery: Can this cell line render something ‘morally compromised?’ Leveraging their experience at a research laboratory, one of thousands around the world that uses HEK293 and HEK293T cells on a nearly daily basis, Baal still explains the often-automated interplay between cellular materials and the drugs that come from lab research. Noting that, because of experimentation and refinement over time, the original cells are no longer recognizable as human cells, and have been in use for more than five decades, the author rejects the pronouncement by the Archdiocese of New Orleans that “the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing.” Baal still explains that “if for some sort of moral reason they reject any vaccine that was developed using HEK293 cells, then they also need to reject the use of a very substantial percentage of the drugs that have been developed over the last 10-15 years. What percentage? It would be very difficult to say, I certainly can’t. But a very substantial percentage.” Baal still has authored eight stories, with this being their first rescue.
Turning to the current political environment, the quieting of “the overpowering baseline noise we’ve suffered from for five years” has made agnostic twitchy, as they explain in It is too damned normal. THAT’S my problem. The author explains that now “Our reality is different. Our perceptions have been altered, and our approach to this flat earth is no longer the same.” The sudden muting of Donald Trump, the return to a government in the hands of competent adults, and the vanishing of Rush Limbaugh from the world are among the factors that contribute to a new, disorienting, but very welcome reality. A Kossack of 15 years, agnostic is the punning Pastor of the Church of Ineffable Stupidity, and author of 1221 stories.
Author of the long-running “Books So Bad They’re Good” for the Readers and Book Lovers Group, Ellid‘s contribution this week is Hoaxes, Part II: Indifference. “Tonight,” she writes, “I’m continuing my exploration of what hoaxes are and why otherwise intelligent people believe them, based on Curtis D. MacDougall’s book Hoaxes. MacDougall’s first chapter is about the first reason people fall for hoaxes, what he called “indifference”: the tendency of humans to believe what they’re told (especially if something looks or sounds plausible), especially if it’s something that happens to other people, in another country, or in a field/area of interest that they don’t know all that much about.” We are all susceptible to hoaxes, if only because we don’t have enough time, resources, or the ability to investigate everything we’re told and, counting on our collective unfamiliarity, there’s no lack of people willing to exploit our gullibility. In her other life, Ellid is a LARPing quilt historian. Here at Daily Kos, she has authored 574 stories, 152 of them rescued.
LeftOfYou writes in I’m finally coming to terms with my Southern ancestors’ role as overseers on NC plantations, about his desire to authenticate family lore and learning more than he anticipated—including one direct ancestor’s role as a Confederate soldier and his post-war profession as a landless farm laborer who fathered a family of farm laborers (tenant farmers). Another ancestor was a potential owner of enslaved people, although the historic record is incomplete. Of his ancestors’ experience, he writes that despite their poverty and exploitation by rich whites, his ancestors were “irredeemable racists,” all the way through to his father’s generation. “Though I’m not quite sure exactly why, I felt that this story says something about the persistence of racism and white supremacy in the face of even deadly opposition.” LeftOfYou is an amateur historic preservationist. Of his 850 stories, 73 have been rescued.
For the last several weeks, Irontortoise has been recounting the stages of a life-changing journey, finishing with Iron Tortoise Origin Story, part 5: Conclusion. The trip was a week-long 480-mile (more like 570 in reality) bicycle circuit around the Nevada Test Site in 1989. For readers who have followed the journey through the desert, in and out of Las Vegas, and up and down the barren hills, the conclusion is a triumph and the fulfillment of a life-goal, albeit a solitary one. “Physically I had proven, at least to myself, that even very long distance cycling under less than ideal conditions did not necessarily demand a fanatical devotion to either diet or training—just a modicum of common sense preparations and a willingness to persevere. And psychologically, I had now shed the last lingering remnants of self-doubt about divorcing myself from the gas-guzzling cult of automotive ownership.” Irontortoise, a now-retired seismic analyst who helped to expose the true extent of unannounced U.S. nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site, is the author of 315 Daily Kos stories.
Paradox unloads on The Washington Post in It was a dark and stormy night, calling out the authors of an op-ed for “a classically inept piece of lousy American D.C. journalism.” The article, “As Senate rushes $1.9 trillion bill through Congress, Biden faces doubts over whether it’s still the right package,” cites unnamed economists and critics to cast doubt on the wisdom and efficacy of Democratic legislation before it’s even been enacted. This is not a case of incompetent journalism, the author writes, but a consequence of the fact that “D.C. is a Republican hard-wired town—too many defense interests, too many monied lobbyists, too many shamelessly lying Republicans. Plus this sickening genuflecting to ‘conservative’ or Republican political positions in the D.C. press.” Even so, it would behoove a Republican-leaning press to stop “both sides-ing” every single issue. Paradox has been a Kossack since 2003, authored 1051 stories and had 58 rescued.
Finally, Lynnekz provides a personal look at her husband’s struggles to control his diabetes in Kos Diabetes Group: My husband, a cautionary tale on the importance of regular glucose testing. After a long period of relative stability, lynnekz says that her husband became lax with both testing and his diet. A stint working from home has cut him off from his daily habits of fast food, M&Ms, and peanut butter cups. Combined with daily walks, he lost weight and his A1C went down, but it wasn’t until he started testing his blood 3-4 times a day that they were able to determine a schedule for taking his oral medications and keeping his blood sugar consistent. He’s healthier and safer. “My husband is lucky that he never crashed his car on the way to work due to his low blood sugar level, or had any other serious problems. As a diabetic, you do science on your body every day with your diet, medication, and exercise. You can’t know how your body is responding unless you test. Like my husband, you could be a serious hypoglycemic incident waiting to happen.” Regular testing is essential to manage the disease. Lynnekz writes regularly for the Kos Diabetes Group. This is her first rescue.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 6:30PM ET (3:30PM PT).
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